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Chris Mazdzer, Passive Righteousness, and the Fastest Sport on Ice

Chris Mazdzer, Passive Righteousness, and the Fastest Sport on Ice

The other day, Chris Mazdzer did something no American has ever done: medal in the Olympic luge. You know the luge, it’s the one where the seemingly rubber-suited guys lie on their back on a sled and hurtle down the bobsled track at 80 miles an hour, sneaking an occasional peak to see where in God’s name they’re going and on which upcoming turn they might die. It’s a sport dominated by Eastern Europeans, because we Americans have apparently decided we have better things to do, like explaining, during literally every single routine, the excruciatingly simple colored dots scoring system…

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Nothing Means as Much

Nothing Means as Much

It’s the Super Bowl, 2018. Perhaps a billion humans are linked to it. In the stands, 80,000 humans are next to you in full expression. Real things happen, and some are unheard, despite the billions of ears and ears.

11 men stand alone on one side of a ball, while on the other side another 11 men gather. Those first 11 men have done this many times before. They have won this game many times before. They have been better than those in the other cluster many times before. This group is led by a person who is older than everyone else…

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"Chip in My Brain": This American Life Buried the Lede

“Chip in My Brain”: This American Life Buried the Lede

Like many here at Mockingbird, I’m a big fan of This American Life and Serial/S-Town and all of those NPRish, WBEC Chicago Public Radio podcasts. I’ve been listening to the TAL podcasts for going on four years now, and “Chip in My Brain” (Jan 13, 2018) is the most compelling to date, for me. That’s a huge compliment in my opinion, because, while TAL (much like 60 Minutes) can be a bit “hit or miss,” it usually hits, and this time, I wonder if it even knows what it has stumbled upon.

Going forward here, there will be some spoilage, and that is significant….

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Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. In the main, the Steelers are a pretty great team for whom to root. They’re almost always pretty good, and win their division most years. Their ownership is stable, evidenced by the fact that they’ve had three coaches since 1969. For comparison’s sake, the Cleveland Browns—a nominal rival of the Steelers—have had eighteen coaches in that same period. The Browns are terrible. One of my favorite statistics is that, since he entered the league, Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ veteran quarterback, is the winningest quarterback at the Browns’ stadium…and he plays there once per season. The…

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I, Tonya Justifies the 90's

I, Tonya Justifies the 90’s

Where were you in 1994 when Nancy Kerrigan took the famous billy club to the knee? Can you believe that event took place nearly a quarter century ago? It’s one of those strange decade-defining events that’s lasted in our minds alongside the Milli Vanilli lip syncing scandal of 1990, the Clinton affair scandal of 1998, or the O.J. Simpson trial of 1994. For those who weren’t following the illustrious world of 1990’s U.S. figure skating, or for those who simply weren’t born yet, there’s a fresh chance to get in on the story with this year’s Oscar bait dark comedy I,…

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Jesus Just Makes More Sense When We Lose…

Jesus Just Makes More Sense When We Lose…

Tua Tagovailoa (the freshman QB) came off the bench after halftime last week and led Alabama to (yet another) College Football National Championship, and below was his first interview right after the game. Wow! Did he just say what I think he said? (20 seconds in). “My parents will be mad, so, first, excuse me, but I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”

Wow! — he did say that! His parents will be mad? Why? Is it because his parents think that Jesus would probably prefer that their son give direct answers to direct questions, and not try…

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UCF Tries to Make Themselves...Just Like Me

UCF Tries to Make Themselves…Just Like Me

Are you excited for the Georgia/Alabama game on Monday? The one that will crown the 2018 National Champi…oh, wait. Apparently the University of Central Florida already claimed the 2018 National Championship after their Peach Bowl victory over Auburn (admittedly, the only team who beat both Georgia and Alabama this season). What are we to make of this? In one sense, it’s almost honorable: the school is celebrating a group of students who accomplished something remarkable and is even paying its coaches the national championship bonuses called for in their contracts. There is even precedent for this behavior: calling yourself a…

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THE Game

THE Game

Football is in High Season right now. It’s become enmeshed in headlines: kneeling, concussions, NFL attendance are all loudly flamed. But it’s also the time of championships, pro playoff debates and season-ending “rivalry games.”

I find an odd connection with the sport of football and faith in religion. Quite personally, for me, there is an intimate connection to the sport. I played, coached, and one son played all the way through college. The scale and hype of Big Time Football leaves me cold. But similarly, for this Cradle Episcopalian “Churchman,” church and churchiness leaves me cold, too.

However, the love I feel…

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Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

Wherever you get your news, you have surely read about (or skipped over) the ongoing National Anthem disputes among NFL teams on game day, a controversy fanned ever higher by President Trump’s continued Twitter-complaints about it. Media outlets have, of course, come around to sample their own spin on the conversation.

And then, just yesterday, news broke about the FBI sting operation on multiple NCAA men’s basketball programs, allegedly in cahoots with sportswear giant Adidas for all kinds of illegalities, not least the funneling of hundreds of thousands of dollars to high school prospects’ families, in exchange for their contracts, both…

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“It’s a Nice Day for a Run” and Other Strange Things to Say: Some Thoughts on Our Pursuit of Pain

“It’s a Nice Day for a Run” and Other Strange Things to Say: Some Thoughts on Our Pursuit of Pain

It was the closest thing to hell I’ve ever experienced: my whole body hurt. A dull buzz with epicenters at the soles of my feet, knees, and head: a red-hot pain emanating outward, into my neck, arms, down my back, through those muscles that I don’t know the name of that run from my shoulder blades to my bum…whatever those are, they hurt. I sat down. I stood up. I walked in aimless circles, drank water. Nothing helped. After running along the James River that day, 26.2 throbbing miles along that winding golden ribbon, the only thing I remember about…

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The Lord’s Football

The Lord’s Football

It’s the end of summer. It’s the beginning of the fall academic sports season. But it is yet hot, humid, and athletic bodies are in full assault. No matter the sport, it’s preseason. It’s a time of shock, sweat, blood, swelling, and stiffness. It is a time no old athlete forgets, and most wince at the memory. Those engaged are without perspective—they are all coping amid the pain.

Panicked reports abound of summer practice deaths, concussions, fatal lightning strikes and the bemoaning of the depletion of teams by one-sport athletes are common to the point of cliché. Not so…

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Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

Everybody Touch Somebody: Glory & Grace in Last Chance U

The very first shot of the second season of Netflix’s documentary series Last Chance U shows a hot Mississippi sun peeking out through trees. The second shot is of a small church near the rural town of Scooba. The third shot is also of a church, while the audio of a preacher addressing his congregation plays as a voice-over. “As the coach watched himself on that screen, he didn’t like what he saw” expounds the voice-over, referencing the show’s first season. “Can you imagine if a documentary was made about your life? And they followed you, the good the bad,…

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